The space for a new railway hub in Palmerston North has been officially designated and confirmed for rail use.
KiwiRail's planned Regional Freight Hub in the city will be part of the Te Utanganui, the Central New Zealand Distribution Hub.
Te Utanganui is aimed at connecting freight across the lower North Island by rail, road, air and sea. It is a collaboration between Palmerston North City Council, Manawatū District Council, and the Central Economic Development Agency, in partnership with Rangitāne o Manawatū.
KiwiRail executive general manager property Anna Allen said the design plan of the Palmerston North hub was complete, land has started being purchased and the hub's footprint has been designated for rail use.
She said $40m from the government's Provincial Growth Fund in 2018 has brought the plan to this stage.
"Our Regional Freight Hub will make sure rail is a part of that growth, and that growing freight movements in the decades ahead benefit from the low transport emissions train's offer."
Allan said the rail operator was currently working on an investment case to build the hub in stages over the coming decades.
She said KiwiRail wanted to get spades in the ground for the first stage from 2027.
"We are committed to meeting the conditions of our designation and will be working with mana whenua and other iwi and hapū and establishing a community liaison group, to ensure our key stakeholders remain involved as we progress."
Palmerston North City Council chief planning officer David Murphy said the future of the hub was a welcome addition to Te Utanganui.
"Te Utanganui is set to grow as more land is zoned for development, with the KiwiRail hub a significant contributor to that growth".
"Complementing the Golden Triangle (Auckland - Hamilton- Tauranga) and the southern Christchurch node, Te Utanganui will act as the third node in New Zealand's national transport and freight network in the heart of the country."